Teenagers is a Creative Commons image by Monica Arellano-Ongpin
One of the most discussed articles about Twitter recently was a New York Times piece about the Twitter usage of teenagers or rather the lack of it. Teens don’t tweet.
Only roughly 10% of teenagers below the age of 18 use Twitter and the whole Web seems surprised or rather disappointed.
Some commentators even point fingers at people marketing themselves on Twitter which scares off prospective teenage users. So what?
I’d like to ruminate about the question whether it’s actually good or bad news. Also I’d like to take a look at exactly who might want or need teenagers on Twitter.
Twitter needs teens in the long run to continues its growth or there to stay alive. Once Twitter reaches all of the elderly, sorry grown up population only the new generations will be able to fill up the ranks of dying Twitter users. Just testing my British humor but you get the point.
Do teens need Twitter? The obvious answer would be “no” otherwise the would use it. I’d argue that they’ll need Twitter once they get old enough to have to market themselves like the evil professionals that already do.
You probably already know that I got my SEOptimise blogging job right there on Twitter. I both read the message that SEOptimise is looking for a writer and contacted Kevin via a direct message. We don’t email much since then. Neither do we use any other medium to communicate. Twitter is the ideal tool for professionals to connect to each other. It seems Twitter is more a LinkedIn competitor than a Facebook rival.
Most teenagers prefer MySpace and Facebook for socializing online it seems.
There are several reasons for them, some are valid, some are mostly age related but do not make sense for the teens in the long run.
While MySpace is the place to be if you are cool, love fancy user names and avatars. Also it’s perfect to connect with others based on the music they listen to. You connect with virtual friends there and can test different identities. In my youth we had subcultures for all kinds of these things. Modern teenagers go online for that.
Facebook is a way to communicate with people you know in real life or people you know by name and would like to know in real life. Also you can test your popularity here. You can form your identity by interacting with those real people. Facebook is about groups, about communicating in a truly social context.
- Twitter on the contrary is a mostly one to one communication channel. Teens use IM for that.
- Ironically Twitter is also like a never ending party. People practice small talk all the time. Most teens still feel awkward at parties.
- Additionally people on Twitter are on a never ending conference: They talk to a room full of people, an amorphous audience that mostyl stays in the dark. As a kid you are scared to stand in front of hundreds of people and try to say something witty.
Only from time to time someone out of the audience replies so you don’t even know whether you said something awfully stupid. You need quite a lot self-confidence to tweet.
At a certain age people stop to seek groups of peers and being popular among them, they start to seek a professional career and to establish themselves as someone to talk to.
Call it egotism but it’s exactyl what adults in real life do as well. Once the teenagers grow up they will arrive on Twitter and LinkedIn. They’ll stay at Facebook but they will abandon MySpace (they already do). It’s good that teens don’t show on Twitter while being under age. They would make it another ailing MySpace that would die off soon. Also it’s good for their parents that they don’t as criminials use Twitter and Facebook to find their crime targets.
Business owners on the other hand know now that they can reach the older demogrphic on twitter. The people who work already use Twitter. The people who earn and spend money use Twitter. So it’s good for business right now to use Twitter. For long term branding catch teenagers where the are.